SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
by Jane Austen
CHAPTER I CHAPTER II CHAPTER III CHAPTER IV CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI CHAPTER VII CHAPTER VIII CHAPTER IX CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI CHAPTER XII CHAPTER XIII CHAPTER XIV CHAPTER XV
CHAPTER XVI CHAPTER XVII CHAPTER XVIII CHAPTER XIX CHAPTER XX
CHAPTER XXI CHAPTER XXII CHAPTER XXIII CHAPTER XXIV CHAPTER XXV
CHAPTER XXVI CHAPTER XXVII CHAPTER XXVIII CHAPTER XXIX CHAPTER XXX
CHAPTER XXXI CHAPTER XXXII CHAPTER XXXIII CHAPTER XXXIV CHAPTER XXXV
CHAPTER XXXVI CHAPTER XXXVII CHAPTER XXXVIII CHAPTER XXXIX CHAPTER XL
CHAPTER XLI CHAPTER XLII CHAPTER XLIII CHAPTER XLIV CHAPTER XLV
CHAPTER XLVI CHAPTER XLVII CHAPTER XLVIII CHAPTER XLIX CHAPTER L
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The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large,
and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where,
for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the
general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this
estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many
years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her
death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in
his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family
of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and
the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and
niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His
attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry
Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest, but from
goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid comfort which his age could
receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence.
By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady,
three daughters. The son, a steady respectable young man, was amply provided
for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large, and half of which devolved
on him on his coming of age. By his own marriage, likewise, which happened
soon afterwards, he added to his wealth. To him therefore the succession to the
Norland estate was not so really important as to his sisters; for their fortune,
independent of what might arise to them from their father's inheriting that
property, could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their father only
seven thousand pounds in his own disposal; for the remaining moiety of his first
wife's fortune was also secured to her child, and he had only a life-interest in it.
The old gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave
as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful,
as to leave his estate from his nephew;—but he left it to him on such terms as
destroyed half the value of the bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for
the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son;—but to his son,
and his son's son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as to
leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and
who most needed a provision by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of its
valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in
occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the
affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children
of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having
his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all
the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and
her daughters. He meant not to be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his
affection for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.
Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his temper was cheerful
and sanguine; and he might reasonably hope to live many years, and by living
economically, lay by a considerable sum from the produce of an estate already
large, and capable of almost immediate improvement. But the fortune, which had
been so tardy in coming, was his only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no
longer; and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies, was all that
remained for his widow and daughters.
His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known, and to him Mr. Dashwood
recommended, with all the strength and urgency which illness could command,
the interest of his mother-in-law and sisters.
Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the family; but he
was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at such a time, and he
promised to do every thing in his power to make them comfortable. His father
was rendered easy by such an assurance, and Mr. John Dashwood had then
leisure to consider how much there might prudently be in his power to do for
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted and
rather selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he
conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties. Had he
married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable
than he was:—he might even have been made amiable himself; for he was very
young when he married, and very fond of his wife. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a
strong caricature of himself;—more narrow-minded and selfish.
When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase
the fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then
really thought himself equal to it. The prospect of four thousand a-year, in
addition to his present income, besides the remaining half of his own mother's
fortune, warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.— "Yes, he
would give them three thousand pounds: it would be liberal and handsome! It
would be enough to make them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he
could spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."— He thought of it all
day long, and for many days successively, and he did not repent.
No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood, without
sending any notice of her intention to her mother-in-law, arrived with her child
and their attendants. No one could dispute her right to come; the house was her
husband's from the moment of his father's decease; but the indelicacy of her
conduct was so much the greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation,
with only common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;—but in HER mind
there was a sense of honor so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of
the kind, by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of immoveable
disgust. Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with any of her
husband's family; but she had had no opportunity, till the present, of shewing
them with how little attention to the comfort of other people she could act when
occasion required it.
So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious behaviour, and so earnestly did
she despise her daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter, she would
have quitted the house for ever, had not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced
her first to reflect on the propriety of going, and her own tender love for all her
three children determined her afterwards to stay, and for their sakes avoid a
breach with their brother.
Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength
of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only
nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to
counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs.
Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent
heart;—her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she
knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to
learn; and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.
Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's. She was
sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no
moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but
prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.
Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility; but by Mrs.
Dashwood it was valued and cherished. They encouraged each other now in the
violence of their affliction. The agony of grief which overpowered them at first,
was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again. They gave
themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every
reflection that could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation in
future. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could struggle, she could
exert herself. She could consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law
on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention; and could strive to rouse her
mother to similar exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.
Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored, well-disposed girl; but as she
had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having much of
her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more
advanced period of life.
Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother
and sisters-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors. As such, however,
they were treated by her with quiet civility; and by her husband with as much
kindness as he could feel towards anybody beyond himself, his wife, and their
child. He really pressed them, with some earnestness, to consider Norland as
their home; and, as no plan appeared so eligible to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining
there till she could accommodate herself with a house in the neighbourhood, his
invitation was accepted.
A continuance in a place where everything reminded her of former delight, was
exactly what suited her mind. In seasons of cheerfulness, no temper could be
more cheerful than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine
expectation of happiness which is happiness itself. But in sorrow she must be
equally carried away by her fancy, and as far beyond consolation as in pleasure
she was beyond alloy.
Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do
for his sisters. To take three thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little
boy would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree. She begged him to
think again on the subject. How could he answer it to himself to rob his child, and
his only child too, of so large a sum? And what possible claim could the Miss
Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered as
no relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount. It was very
well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist between the children of
any man by different marriages; and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor
little Harry, by giving away all his money to his half sisters?
"It was my father's last request to me," replied her husband, "that I should assist
his widow and daughters."
"He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say; ten to one but he was light-
headed at the time. Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought of
such a thing as begging you to give away half your fortune from your own child."
"He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only requested
me, in general terms, to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable
than it was in his power to do. Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it
wholly to myself. He could hardly suppose I should neglect them. But as he
required the promise, I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so at the
time. The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed. Something
must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new home."
"Well, then, LET something be done for them; but THAT something need not be
three thousand pounds. Consider," she added, "that when the money is once
parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for
ever. If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy—"
"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely, "that would make great
difference. The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was
parted with. If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would be a very
"To be sure it would."
"Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties, if the sum were diminished one
half.—Five hundred pounds would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!"
"Oh! beyond anything great! What brother on earth would do half so much for his
sisters, even if REALLY his sisters! And as it is—only half blood!—But you have
such a generous spirit!"
"I would not wish to do any thing mean," he replied. "One had rather, on such
occasions, do too much than too little. No one, at least, can think I have not done
enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly expect more."
"There is no knowing what THEY may expect," said the lady, "but we are not to
think of their expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do."
"Certainly—and I think I may afford to give them five hundred pounds a-piece. As
it is, without any addition of mine, they will each have about three thousand
pounds on their mother's death—a very comfortable fortune for any young
"To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that they can want no addition at all.
They will have ten thousand pounds divided amongst them. If they marry, they
will be sure of doing well, and if they do not, they may all live very comfortably
together on the interest of ten thousand pounds."
"That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether, upon the whole, it
would not be more advisable to do something for their mother while she lives,
rather than for them—something of the annuity kind I mean.—My sisters would
feel the good effects of it as well as herself. A hundred a year would make them
all perfectly comfortable."
His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving her consent to this plan.
"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with fifteen hundred pounds at
once. But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood should live fifteen years we shall be completely
"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot be worth half that purchase."
"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always live for ever when there is an
annuity to be paid them; and she is very stout and healthy, and hardly forty. An
annuity is a very serious business; it comes over and over every year, and there
is no getting rid of it. You are not aware of what you are doing. I have known a
great deal of the trouble of annuities; for my mother was clogged with the
payment of three to old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is
amazing how disagreeable she found it. Twice every year these annuities were to
be paid; and then there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then one of
them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned out to be no such thing. My
mother was quite sick of it. Her income was not her own, she said, with such
perpetual claims on it; and it was the more unkind in my father, because,
otherwise, the money would have been entirely at my mother's disposal, without
any restriction whatever. It has given me such an abhorrence of annuities, that I
am sure I would not pin myself down to the payment of one for all the world."
"It is certainly an unpleasant thing," replied Mr. Dashwood, "to have those kind of
yearly drains on one's income. One's fortune, as your mother justly says, is NOT
one's own. To be tied down to the regular payment of such a sum, on every rent
day, is by no means desirable: it takes away one's independence."
"Undoubtedly; and after all you have no thanks for it. They think themselves
secure, you do no more than what is expected, and it raises no gratitude at all. If
I were you, whatever I did should be done at my own discretion entirely. I would
not bind myself to allow them any thing yearly. It may be very inconvenient some
years to spare a hundred, or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."
"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better that there should by no annuity
in the case; whatever I may give them occasionally will be of far greater
assistance than a yearly allowance, because they would only enlarge their style of
living if they felt sure of a larger income, and would not be sixpence the richer for
it at the end of the year. It will certainly be much the best way. A present of fifty
pounds, now and then, will prevent their ever being distressed for money, and
will, I think, be amply discharging my promise to my father."
"To be sure it will. Indeed, to say the truth, I am convinced within myself that
your father had no idea of your giving them any money at all. The assistance he
thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be reasonably expected of you; for
instance, such as looking out for a comfortable small house for them, helping
them to move their things, and sending them presents of fish and game, and so
forth, whenever they are in season. I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther;
indeed, it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did. Do but consider, my
dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law and her
daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the
thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings them in fifty pounds
a year a-piece, and, of course, they will pay their mother for their board out of it.
Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth
can four women want for more than that?—They will live so cheap! Their
housekeeping will be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and
hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of
any kind! Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a year! I am
sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as to your giving them
more, it is quite absurd to think of it. They will be much more able to give YOU
"Upon my word," said Mr. Dashwood, "I believe you are perfectly right. My father
certainly could mean nothing more by his request to me than what you say. I
clearly understand it now, and I will strictly fulfil my engagement by such acts of
assistance and kindness to them as you have described. When my mother
removes into another house my services shall be readily given to accommodate
her as far as I can. Some little present of furniture too may be acceptable then."
"Certainly," returned Mrs. John Dashwood. "But, however, ONE thing must be
considered. When your father and mother moved to Norland, though the furniture
of Stanhill was sold, all the china, plate, and linen was saved, and is now left to
your mother. Her house will therefore be almost completely fitted up as soon as
she takes it."
"That is a material consideration undoubtedly. A valuable legacy indeed! And yet
some of the plate would have been a very pleasant addition to our own stock
"Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice as handsome as what belongs to this
house. A great deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place THEY can ever
afford to live in. But, however, so it is. Your father thought only of THEM. And I
must say this: that you owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention to his
wishes; for we very well know that if he could, he would have left almost
everything in the world to THEM."
This argument was irresistible. It gave to his intentions whatever of decision was
wanting before; and he finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary,
if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow and children of his father, than
such kind of neighbourly acts as his own wife pointed out.
Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from any disinclination
to move when the sight of every well known spot ceased to raise the violent
emotion which it produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive, and
her mind became capable of some other exertion than that of heightening its
affliction by melancholy remembrances, she was impatient to be gone, and
indefatigable in her inquiries for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of
Norland; for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible. But she could
hear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort and ease, and
suited the prudence of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected
several houses as too large for their income, which her mother would have
Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the solemn promise on the
part of his son in their favour, which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections.
She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no more than he had doubted it
himself, and she thought of it for her daughters' sake with satisfaction, though as
for herself she was persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would
support her in affluence. For their brother's sake, too, for the sake of his own
heart, she rejoiced; and she reproached herself for being unjust to his merit
before, in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive behaviour to herself
and his sisters convinced her that their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long
time, she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.
The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance, felt for her
daughter-in-law, was very much increased by the farther knowledge of her
character, which half a year's residence in her family afforded; and perhaps in
spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal affection on the side of the
former, the two ladies might have found it impossible to have lived together so
long, had not a particular circumstance occurred to give still greater eligibility,
according to the opinions of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at
This circumstance was a growing attachment between her eldest girl and the
brother of Mrs. John Dashwood, a gentleman-like and pleasing young man, who
was introduced to their acquaintance soon after his sister's establishment at
Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part of his time there.
Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from motives of interest, for
Edward Ferrars was the eldest son of a man who had died very rich; and some
might have repressed it from motives of prudence, for, except a trifling sum, the
whole of his fortune depended on the will of his mother. But Mrs. Dashwood was
alike uninfluenced by either consideration. It was enough for her that he
appeared to be amiable, that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned the
partiality. It was contrary to every doctrine of her's that difference of fortune
should keep any couple asunder who were attracted by resemblance of
disposition; and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged by every one who
knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.
Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar
graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required
intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but
when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of
an open, affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had
given it solid improvement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to
answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see him distinguished
—as—they hardly knew what. They wanted him to make a fine figure in the world
in some manner or other. His mother wished to interest him in political concerns,
to get him into parliament, or to see him connected with some of the great men
of the day. Mrs. John Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while, till one
of these superior blessings could be attained, it would have quieted her ambition
to see him driving a barouche. But Edward had no turn for great men or
barouches. All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet of private
life. Fortunately he had a younger brother who was more promising.
Edward had been staying several weeks in the house before he engaged much of
Mrs. Dashwood's attention; for she was, at that time, in such affliction as
rendered her careless of surrounding objects. She saw only that he was quiet and
unobtrusive, and she liked him for it. He did not disturb the wretchedness of her
mind by ill-timed conversation. She was first called to observe and approve him
farther, by a reflection which Elinor chanced one day to make on the difference
between him and his sister. It was a contrast which recommended him most
forcibly to her mother.
"It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike Fanny is enough. It implies
everything amiable. I love him already."
"I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you know more of him."
"Like him!" replied her mother with a smile. "I feel no sentiment of approbation
inferior to love."
"You may esteem him."
"I have never yet known what it was to separate esteem and love."
Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him. Her manners were
attaching, and soon banished his reserve. She speedily comprehended all his
merits; the persuasion of his regard for Elinor perhaps assisted her penetration;
but she really felt assured of his worth: and even that quietness of manner, which
militated against all her established ideas of what a young man's address ought
to be, was no longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be warm and his
No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour to Elinor, than
she considered their serious attachment as certain, and looked forward to their
marriage as rapidly approaching.
"In a few months, my dear Marianne." said she, "Elinor will, in all probability be
settled for life. We shall miss her; but SHE will be happy."
"Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"
"My love, it will be scarcely a separation. We shall live within a few miles of each
other, and shall meet every day of our lives. You will gain a brother, a real,
affectionate brother. I have the highest opinion in the world of Edward's heart.
But you look grave, Marianne; do you disapprove your sister's choice?"
"Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it with some surprise. Edward is very
amiable, and I love him tenderly. But yet—he is not the kind of young man—there
is something wanting—his figure is not striking; it has none of that grace which I
should expect in the man who could seriously attach my sister. His eyes want all
that spirit, that fire, which at once announce virtue and intelligence. And besides
all this, I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste. Music seems scarcely to attract
him, and though he admires Elinor's drawings very much, it is not the admiration
of a person who can understand their worth. It is evident, in spite of his frequent
attention to her while she draws, that in fact he knows nothing of the matter. He
admires as a lover, not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters must be
united. I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point
coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; the same books, the
same music must charm us both. Oh! mama, how spiritless, how tame was
Edward's manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet
she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could
hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost
driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful
indifference!"— "He would certainly have done more justice to simple and elegant
prose. I thought so at the time; but you WOULD give him Cowper."
"Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!—but we must allow for
difference of taste. Elinor has not my feelings, and therefore she may overlook it,
and be happy with him. But it would have broke MY heart, had I loved him, to
hear him read with so little sensibility. Mama, the more I know of the world, the
more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I
require so much! He must have all Edward's virtues, and his person and manners
must ornament his goodness with every possible charm."
"Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen. It is yet too early in life to
despair of such a happiness. Why should you be less fortunate than your mother?
In one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your destiny be different from
"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne, "that Edward should have no taste for
"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should you think so? He does not draw
himself, indeed, but he has great pleasure in seeing the performances of other
people, and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste, though he
has not had opportunities of improving it. Had he ever been in the way of
learning, I think he would have drawn very well. He distrusts his own judgment in
such matters so much, that he is always unwilling to give his opinion on any
picture; but he has an innate propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general
direct him perfectly right."
Marianne was afraid of offending, and said no more on the subject; but the kind
of approbation which Elinor described as excited in him by the drawings of other
people, was very far from that rapturous delight, which, in her opinion, could
alone be called taste. Yet, though smiling within herself at the mistake, she
honoured her sister for that blind partiality to Edward which produced it.
"I hope, Marianne," continued Elinor, "you do not consider him as deficient in
general taste. Indeed, I think I may say that you cannot, for your behaviour to
him is perfectly cordial, and if THAT were your opinion, I am sure you could never
be civil to him."
Marianne hardly knew what to say. She would not wound the feelings of her sister
on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible. At length
"Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him is not in every thing equal to your
sense of his merits. I have not had so many opportunities of estimating the
minuter propensities of his mind, his inclinations and tastes, as you have; but I
have the highest opinion in the world of his goodness and sense. I think him
every thing that is worthy and amiable."
"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile, "that his dearest friends could not be
dissatisfied with such commendation as that. I do not perceive how you could
express yourself more warmly."
Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased.
"Of his sense and his goodness," continued Elinor, "no one can, I think, be in
doubt, who has seen him often enough to engage him in unreserved
conversation. The excellence of his understanding and his principles can be
concealed only by that shyness which too often keeps him silent. You know
enough of him to do justice to his solid worth. But of his minuter propensities, as
you call them you have from peculiar circumstances been kept more ignorant
than myself. He and I have been at times thrown a good deal together, while you
have been wholly engrossed on the most affectionate principle by my mother. I
have seen a great deal of him, have studied his sentiments and heard his opinion
on subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole, I venture to pronounce
that his mind is well-informed, enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his
imagination lively, his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate and
pure. His abilities in every respect improve as much upon acquaintance as his
manners and person. At first sight, his address is certainly not striking; and his
person can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which are
uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived.
At present, I know him so well, that I think him really handsome; or at least,
almost so. What say you, Marianne?"
"I shall very soon think him handsome, Elinor, if I do not now. When you tell me
to love him as a brother, I shall no more see imperfection in his face, than I now
do in his heart."
Elinor started at this declaration, and was sorry for the warmth she had been
betrayed into, in speaking of him. She felt that Edward stood very high in her
opinion. She believed the regard to be mutual; but she required greater certainty
of it to make Marianne's conviction of their attachment agreeable to her. She
knew that what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment, they believed
the next—that with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect. She
tried to explain the real state of the case to her sister.
"I do not attempt to deny," said she, "that I think very highly of him—that I
greatly esteem, that I like him."
Marianne here burst forth with indignation—
"Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted!
Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room
Elinor could not help laughing. "Excuse me," said she; "and be assured that I
meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.
Believe them to be stronger than I have declared; believe them, in short, to be
such as his merit, and the suspicion—the hope of his affection for me may
warrant, without imprudence or folly. But farther than this you must not believe. I
am by no means assured of his regard for me. There are moments when the
extent of it seems doubtful; and till his sentiments are fully known, you cannot
wonder at my wishing to avoid any encouragement of my own partiality, by
believing or calling it more than it is. In my heart I feel little—scarcely any doubt
of his preference. But there are other points to be considered besides his
inclination. He is very far from being independent. What his mother really is we
cannot know; but, from Fanny's occasional mention of her conduct and opinions,
we have never been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very much mistaken
if Edward is not himself aware that there would be many difficulties in his way, if
he were to wish to marry a woman who had not either a great fortune or high
Marianne was astonished to find how much the imagination of her mother and
herself had outstripped the truth.
"And you really are not engaged to him!" said she. "Yet it certainly soon will
happen. But two advantages will proceed from this delay. I shall not lose you so
soon, and Edward will have greater opportunity of improving that natural taste for
your favourite pursuit which must be so indispensably necessary to your future
felicity. Oh! if he should be so far stimulated by your genius as to learn to draw
himself, how delightful it would be!"
Elinor had given her real opinion to her sister. She could not consider her
partiality for Edward in so prosperous a state as Marianne had believed it. There
was, at times, a want of spirits about him which, if it did not denote indifference,
spoke of something almost as unpromising. A doubt of her regard, supposing him
to feel it, need not give him more than inquietude. It would not be likely to
produce that dejection of mind which frequently attended him. A more reasonable
cause might be found in the dependent situation which forbade the indulgence of
his affection. She knew that his mother neither behaved to him so as to make his
home comfortable at present, nor to give him any assurance that he might form a
home for himself, without strictly attending to her views for his aggrandizement.
With such a knowledge as this, it was impossible for Elinor to feel easy on the
subject. She was far from depending on that result of his preference of her, which
her mother and sister still considered as certain. Nay, the longer they were
together the more doubtful seemed the nature of his regard; and sometimes, for
a few painful minutes, she believed it to be no more than friendship.
But, whatever might really be its limits, it was enough, when perceived by his
sister, to make her uneasy, and at the same time, (which was still more
common,) to make her uncivil. She took the first opportunity of affronting her
mother-in-law on the occasion, talking to her so expressively of her brother's
great expectations, of Mrs. Ferrars's resolution that both her sons should marry
well, and of the danger attending any young woman who attempted to DRAW HIM
IN; that Mrs. Dashwood could neither pretend to be unconscious, nor endeavor to
be calm. She gave her an answer which marked her contempt, and instantly left
the room, resolving that, whatever might be the inconvenience or expense of so
sudden a removal, her beloved Elinor should not be exposed another week to
In this state of her spirits, a letter was delivered to her from the post, which
contained a proposal particularly well timed. It was the offer of a small house, on
very easy terms, belonging to a relation of her own, a gentleman of consequence
and property in Devonshire. The letter was from this gentleman himself, and
written in the true spirit of friendly accommodation. He understood that she was
in need of a dwelling; and though the house he now offered her was merely a
cottage, he assured her that everything should be done to it which she might
think necessary, if the situation pleased her. He earnestly pressed her, after giving
the particulars of the house and garden, to come with her daughters to Barton
Park, the place of his own residence, from whence she might judge, herself,
whether Barton Cottage, for the houses were in the same parish, could, by any
alteration, be made comfortable to her. He seemed really anxious to
accommodate them and the whole of his letter was written in so friendly a style
as could not fail of giving pleasure to his cousin; more especially at a moment
when she was suffering under the cold and unfeeling behaviour of her nearer
connections. She needed no time for deliberation or inquiry. Her resolution was
formed as she read. The situation of Barton, in a county so far distant from
Sussex as Devonshire, which, but a few hours before, would have been a
sufficient objection to outweigh every possible advantage belonging to the place,
was now its first recommendation. To quit the neighbourhood of Norland was no
longer an evil; it was an object of desire; it was a blessing, in comparison of the
misery of continuing her daughter-in-law's guest; and to remove for ever from
that beloved place would be less painful than to inhabit or visit it while such a
woman was its mistress. She instantly wrote Sir John Middleton her
acknowledgment of his kindness, and her acceptance of his proposal; and then
hastened to shew both letters to her daughters, that she might be secure of their
approbation before her answer were sent.
Elinor had always thought it would be more prudent for them to settle at some
distance from Norland, than immediately amongst their present acquaintance. On
THAT head, therefore, it was not for her to oppose her mother's intention of
removing into Devonshire. The house, too, as described by Sir John, was on so
simple a scale, and the rent so uncommonly moderate, as to leave her no right of
objection on either point; and, therefore, though it was not a plan which brought
any charm to her fancy, though it was a removal from the vicinity of Norland
beyond her wishes, she made no attempt to dissuade her mother from sending a
letter of acquiescence.
No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood indulged herself in
the pleasure of announcing to her son-in-law and his wife that she was provided
with a house, and should incommode them no longer than till every thing were
ready for her inhabiting it. They heard her with surprise. Mrs. John Dashwood
said nothing; but her husband civilly hoped that she would not be settled far from
Norland. She had great satisfaction in replying that she was going into
Devonshire.—Edward turned hastily towards her, on hearing this, and, in a voice
of surprise and concern, which required no explanation to her, repeated,
"Devonshire! Are you, indeed, going there? So far from hence! And to what part
of it?" She explained the situation. It was within four miles northward of Exeter.
"It is but a cottage," she continued, "but I hope to see many of my friends in it. A
room or two can easily be added; and if my friends find no difficulty in travelling
so far to see me, I am sure I will find none in accommodating them."
She concluded with a very kind invitation to Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood to visit
her at Barton; and to Edward she gave one with still greater affection. Though her
late conversation with her daughter-in-law had made her resolve on remaining at
Norland no longer than was unavoidable, it had not produced the smallest effect
on her in that point to which it principally tended. To separate Edward and Elinor
was as far from being her object as ever; and she wished to show Mrs. John
Dashwood, by this pointed invitation to her brother, how totally she disregarded
her disapprobation of the match.
Mr. John Dashwood told his mother again and again how exceedingly sorry he was
that she had taken a house at such a distance from Norland as to prevent his
being of any service to her in removing her furniture. He really felt
conscientiously vexed on the occasion; for the very exertion to which he had
limited the performance of his promise to his father was by this arrangement
rendered impracticable.— The furniture was all sent around by water. It chiefly
consisted of household linen, plate, china, and books, with a handsome pianoforte
of Marianne's. Mrs. John Dashwood saw the packages depart with a sigh: she
could not help feeling it hard that as Mrs. Dashwood's income would be so trifling
in comparison with their own, she should have any handsome article of furniture.
Mrs. Dashwood took the house for a twelvemonth; it was ready furnished, and
she might have immediate possession. No difficulty arose on either side in the
agreement; and she waited only for the disposal of her effects at Norland, and to
determine her future household, before she set off for the west; and this, as she
was exceedingly rapid in the performance of everything that interested her, was
soon done.—The horses which were left her by her husband had been sold soon
after his death, and an opportunity now offering of disposing of her carriage, she
agreed to sell that likewise at the earnest advice of her eldest daughter. For the
comfort of her children, had she consulted only her own wishes, she would have
kept it; but the discretion of Elinor prevailed. HER wisdom too limited the number
of their servants to three; two maids and a man, with whom they were speedily
provided from amongst those who had formed their establishment at Norland.
The man and one of the maids were sent off immediately into Devonshire, to
prepare the house for their mistress's arrival; for as Lady Middleton was entirely
unknown to Mrs. Dashwood, she preferred going directly to the cottage to being a
visitor at Barton Park; and she relied so undoubtingly on Sir John's description of
the house, as to feel no curiosity to examine it herself till she entered it as her
own. Her eagerness to be gone from Norland was preserved from diminution by
the evident satisfaction of her daughter-in-law in the prospect of her removal; a
satisfaction which was but feebly attempted to be concealed under a cold
invitation to her to defer her departure. Now was the time when her son-in-law's
promise to his father might with particular propriety be fulfilled. Since he had
neglected to do it on first coming to the estate, their quitting his house might be
looked on as the most suitable period for its accomplishment. But Mrs. Dashwood
began shortly to give over every hope of the kind, and to be convinced, from the
general drift of his discourse, that his assistance extended no farther than their
maintenance for six months at Norland. He so frequently talked of the increasing
expenses of housekeeping, and of the perpetual demands upon his purse, which a
man of any consequence in the world was beyond calculation exposed to, that he
seemed rather to stand in need of more money himself than to have any design
of giving money away.
In a very few weeks from the day which brought Sir John Middleton's first letter
to Norland, every thing was so far settled in their future abode as to enable Mrs.
Dashwood and her daughters to begin their journey.
Many were the tears shed by them in their last adieus to a place so much
beloved. "Dear, dear Norland!" said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the
house, on the last evening of their being there; "when shall I cease to regret you!
—when learn to feel a home elsewhere!—Oh! happy house, could you know what
I suffer in now viewing you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view you
no more!—And you, ye well-known trees!—but you will continue the same.—No
leaf will decay because we are removed, nor any branch become motionless
although we can observe you no longer!—No; you will continue the same;
unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any
change in those who walk under your shade!—But who will remain to enjoy you?"
The first part of their journey was performed in too melancholy a disposition to be
otherwise than tedious and unpleasant. But as they drew towards the end of it,
their interest in the appearance of a country which they were to inhabit overcame
their dejection, and a view of Barton Valley as they entered it gave them
cheerfulness. It was a pleasant fertile spot, well wooded, and rich in pasture.
After winding along it for more than a mile, they reached their own house. A
small green court was the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket gate
admitted them into it.
As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as
a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the
window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with
honeysuckles. A narrow passage led directly through the house into the garden
behind. On each side of the entrance was a sitting room, about sixteen feet
square; and beyond them were the offices and the stairs. Four bed-rooms and
two garrets formed the rest of the house. It had not been built many years and
was in good repair. In comparison of Norland, it was poor and small indeed!—but
the tears which recollection called forth as they entered the house were soon
dried away. They were cheered by the joy of the servants on their arrival, and
each for the sake of the others resolved to appear happy. It was very early in
September; the season was fine, and from first seeing the place under the
advantage of good weather, they received an impression in its favour which was
of material service in recommending it to their lasting approbation.
The situation of the house was good. High hills rose immediately behind, and at
no great distance on each side; some of which were open downs, the others
cultivated and woody. The village of Barton was chiefly on one of these hills, and
formed a pleasant view from the cottage windows. The prospect in front was
more extensive; it commanded the whole of the valley, and reached into the
country beyond. The hills which surrounded the cottage terminated the valley in
that direction; under another name, and in another course, it branched out again
between two of the steepest of them.
With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the whole well
satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many additions to the latter
indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her; and she had at this
time ready money enough to supply all that was wanted of greater elegance to
the apartments. "As for the house itself, to be sure," said she, "it is too small for
our family, but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it
is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I have plenty of
money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about building. These parlors are both
too small for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often collected here; and
I have some thoughts of throwing the passage into one of them with perhaps a
part of the other, and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance; this,
with a new drawing room which may be easily added, and a bed-chamber and
garret above, will make it a very snug little cottage. I could wish the stairs were
handsome. But one must not expect every thing; though I suppose it would be no
difficult matter to widen them. I shall see how much I am before-hand with the
world in the spring, and we will plan our improvements accordingly."
In the mean time, till all these alterations could be made from the savings of an
income of five hundred a-year by a woman who never saved in her life, they were
wise enough to be contented with the house as it was; and each of them was
busy in arranging their particular concerns, and endeavoring, by placing around
them books and other possessions, to form themselves a home. Marianne's
pianoforte was unpacked and properly disposed of; and Elinor's drawings were
affixed to the walls of their sitting room.
In such employments as these they were interrupted soon after breakfast the
next day by the entrance of their landlord, who called to welcome them to Barton,
and to offer them every accommodation from his own house and garden in which
theirs might at present be deficient. Sir John Middleton was a good looking man
about forty. He had formerly visited at Stanhill, but it was too long for his young
cousins to remember him. His countenance was thoroughly good-humoured; and
his manners were as friendly as the style of his letter. Their arrival seemed to
afford him real satisfaction, and their comfort to be an object of real solicitude to
him. He said much of his earnest desire of their living in the most sociable terms
with his family, and pressed them so cordially to dine at Barton Park every day till
they were better settled at home, that, though his entreaties were carried to a
point of perseverance beyond civility, they could not give offence. His kindness
was not confined to words; for within an hour after he left them, a large basket
full of garden stuff and fruit arrived from the park, which was followed before the
end of the day by a present of game. He insisted, moreover, on conveying all
their letters to and from the post for them, and would not be denied the
satisfaction of sending them his newspaper every day.
Lady Middleton had sent a very civil message by him, denoting her intention of
waiting on Mrs. Dashwood as soon as she could be assured that her visit would be
no inconvenience; and as this message was answered by an invitation equally
polite, her ladyship was introduced to them the next day.
They were, of course, very anxious to see a person on whom so much of their
comfort at Barton must depend; and the elegance of her appearance was
favourable to their wishes. Lady Middleton was not more than six or seven and
twenty; her face was handsome, her figure tall and striking, and her address
graceful. Her manners had all the elegance which her husband's wanted. But they
would have been improved by some share of his frankness and warmth; and her
visit was long enough to detract something from their first admiration, by
shewing that, though perfectly well-bred, she was reserved, cold, and had
nothing to say for herself beyond the most common-place inquiry or remark.
Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John was very chatty, and Lady
Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a
fine little boy about six years old, by which means there was one subject always
to be recurred to by the ladies in case of extremity, for they had to enquire his
name and age, admire his beauty, and ask him questions which his mother
answered for him, while he hung about her and held down his head, to the great
surprise of her ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he
could make noise enough at home. On every formal visit a child ought to be of
the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case it took up ten
minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in
what particular he resembled either, for of course every body differed, and every
body was astonished at the opinion of the others.
An opportunity was soon to be given to the Dashwoods of debating on the rest of
the children, as Sir John would not leave the house without securing their promise
of dining at the park the next day.
Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage. The ladies had passed near it
in their way along the valley, but it was screened from their view at home by the
projection of a hill. The house was large and handsome; and the Middletons lived
in a style of equal hospitality and elegance. The former was for Sir John's
gratification, the latter for that of his lady. They were scarcely ever without some
friends staying with them in the house, and they kept more company of every
kind than any other family in the neighbourhood. It was necessary to the
happiness of both; for however dissimilar in temper and outward behaviour, they
strongly resembled each other in that total want of talent and taste which
confined their employments, unconnected with such as society produced, within a
very narrow compass. Sir John was a sportsman, Lady Middleton a mother. He
hunted and shot, and she humoured her children; and these were their only
resources. Lady Middleton had the advantage of being able to spoil her children
all the year round, while Sir John's independent employments were in existence
only half the time. Continual engagements at home and abroad, however,
supplied all the deficiencies of nature and education; supported the good spirits of
Sir John, and gave exercise to the good breeding of his wife.
Lady Middleton piqued herself upon the elegance of her table, and of all her
domestic arrangements; and from this kind of vanity was her greatest enjoyment
in any of their parties. But Sir John's satisfaction in society was much more real;
he delighted in collecting about him more young people than his house would
hold, and the noisier they were the better was he pleased. He was a blessing to
all the juvenile part of the neighbourhood, for in summer he was for ever forming
parties to eat cold ham and chicken out of doors, and in winter his private balls
were numerous enough for any young lady who was not suffering under the
unsatiable appetite of fifteen.
The arrival of a new family in the country was always a matter of joy to him, and
in every point of view he was charmed with the inhabitants he had now procured
for his cottage at Barton. The Miss Dashwoods were young, pretty, and
unaffected. It was enough to secure his good opinion; for to be unaffected was all
that a pretty girl could want to make her mind as captivating as her person. The
friendliness of his disposition made him happy in accommodating those, whose
situation might be considered, in comparison with the past, as unfortunate. In
showing kindness to his cousins therefore he had the real satisfaction of a good
heart; and in settling a family of females only in his cottage, he had all the
satisfaction of a sportsman; for a sportsman, though he esteems only those of his
sex who are sportsmen likewise, is not often desirous of encouraging their taste
by admitting them to a residence within his own manor.
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters were met at the door of the house by Sir John,
who welcomed them to Barton Park with unaffected sincerity; and as he attended
them to the drawing room repeated to the young ladies the concern which the
same subject had drawn from him the day before, at being unable to get any
smart young men to meet them. They would see, he said, only one gentleman
there besides himself; a particular friend who was staying at the park, but who
was neither very young nor very gay. He hoped they would all excuse the
smallness of the party, and could assure them it should never happen so again.
He had been to several families that morning in hopes of procuring some addition
to their number, but it was moonlight and every body was full of engagements.
Luckily Lady Middleton's mother had arrived at Barton within the last hour, and as
she was a very cheerful agreeable woman, he hoped the young ladies would not
find it so very dull as they might imagine. The young ladies, as well as their
mother, were perfectly satisfied with having two entire strangers of the party, and
wished for no more.
Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a good-humoured, merry, fat,
elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar.
She was full of jokes and laughter, and before dinner was over had said many
witty things on the subject of lovers and husbands; hoped they had not left their
hearts behind them in Sussex, and pretended to see them blush whether they did
or not. Marianne was vexed at it for her sister's sake, and turned her eyes
towards Elinor to see how she bore these attacks, with an earnestness which
gave Elinor far more pain than could arise from such common-place raillery as
Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, seemed no more adapted by resemblance
of manner to be his friend, than Lady Middleton was to be his wife, or Mrs.
Jennings to be Lady Middleton's mother. He was silent and grave. His appearance
however was not unpleasing, in spite of his being in the opinion of Marianne and
Margaret an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side of five and
thirty; but though his face was not handsome, his countenance was sensible, and
his address was particularly gentlemanlike.
There was nothing in any of the party which could recommend them as
companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold insipidity of Lady Middleton was so
particularly repulsive, that in comparison of it the gravity of Colonel Brandon, and
even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his mother-in-law was interesting. Lady
Middleton seemed to be roused to enjoyment only by the entrance of her four
noisy children after dinner, who pulled her about, tore her clothes, and put an end
to every kind of discourse except what related to themselves.
In the evening, as Marianne was discovered to be musical, she was invited to
play. The instrument was unlocked, every body prepared to be charmed, and
Marianne, who sang very well, at their request went through the chief of the
songs which Lady Middleton had brought into the family on her marriage, and
which perhaps had lain ever since in the same position on the pianoforte, for her
ladyship had celebrated that event by giving up music, although by her mother's
account, she had played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it.
Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his
admiration at the end of every song, and as loud in his conversation with the
others while every song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently called him to order,
wondered how any one's attention could be diverted from music for a moment,
and asked Marianne to sing a particular song which Marianne had just finished.
Colonel Brandon alone, of all the party, heard her without being in raptures. He
paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt a respect for him on the
occasion, which the others had reasonably forfeited by their shameless want of
taste. His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that ecstatic delight which
alone could sympathize with her own, was estimable when contrasted against the
horrible insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough to allow that a
man of five and thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every
exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every
allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life which humanity required.
Mrs. Jennings was a widow with an ample jointure. She had only two daughters,
both of whom she had lived to see respectably married, and she had now
therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world. In the promotion of
this object she was zealously active, as far as her ability reached; and missed no
opportunity of projecting weddings among all the young people of her
acquaintance. She was remarkably quick in the discovery of attachments, and
had enjoyed the advantage of raising the blushes and the vanity of many a young
lady by insinuations of her power over such a young man; and this kind of
discernment enabled her soon after her arrival at Barton decisively to pronounce
that Colonel Brandon was very much in love with Marianne Dashwood. She rather
suspected it to be so, on the very first evening of their being together, from his
listening so attentively while she sang to them; and when the visit was returned
by the Middletons' dining at the cottage, the fact was ascertained by his listening
to her again. It must be so. She was perfectly convinced of it. It would be an
excellent match, for HE was rich, and SHE was handsome. Mrs. Jennings had
been anxious to see Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her connection with
Sir John first brought him to her knowledge; and she was always anxious to get a
good husband for every pretty girl.
The immediate advantage to herself was by no means inconsiderable, for it
supplied her with endless jokes against them both. At the park she laughed at the
colonel, and in the cottage at Marianne. To the former her raillery was probably,
as far as it regarded only himself, perfectly indifferent; but to the latter it was at
first incomprehensible; and when its object was understood, she hardly knew
whether most to laugh at its absurdity, or censure its impertinence, for she
considered it as an unfeeling reflection on the colonel's advanced years, and on
his forlorn condition as an old bachelor.
Mrs. Dashwood, who could not think a man five years younger than herself, so
exceedingly ancient as he appeared to the youthful fancy of her daughter,
ventured to clear Mrs. Jennings from the probability of wishing to throw ridicule
on his age.
"But at least, Mamma, you cannot deny the absurdity of the accusation, though
you may not think it intentionally ill-natured. Colonel Brandon is certainly younger
than Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be MY father; and if he were ever
animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the
kind. It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and
infirmity will not protect him?"
"Infirmity!" said Elinor, "do you call Colonel Brandon infirm? I can easily suppose
that his age may appear much greater to you than to my mother; but you can
hardly deceive yourself as to his having the use of his limbs!"
"Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism? and is not that the
commonest infirmity of declining life?"
"My dearest child," said her mother, laughing, "at this rate you must be in
continual terror of MY decay; and it must seem to you a miracle that my life has
been extended to the advanced age of forty."
"Mamma, you are not doing me justice. I know very well that Colonel Brandon is
not old enough to make his friends yet apprehensive of losing him in the course
of nature. He may live twenty years longer. But thirty-five has nothing to do with
"Perhaps," said Elinor, "thirty-five and seventeen had better not have any thing to
do with matrimony together. But if there should by any chance happen to be a
woman who is single at seven and twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon's
being thirty-five any objection to his marrying HER."
"A woman of seven and twenty," said Marianne, after pausing a moment, "can
never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable,
or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the
offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his
marrying such a woman therefore there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be
a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would
be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a
commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the
"It would be impossible, I know," replied Elinor, "to convince you that a woman of
seven and twenty could feel for a man of thirty-five anything near enough to love,
to make him a desirable companion to her. But I must object to your dooming
Colonel Brandon and his wife to the constant confinement of a sick chamber,
merely because he chanced to complain yesterday (a very cold damp day) of a
slight rheumatic feel in one of his shoulders."
"But he talked of flannel waistcoats," said Marianne; "and with me a flannel
waistcoat is invariably connected with aches, cramps, rheumatisms, and every
species of ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble."
"Had he been only in a violent fever, you would not have despised him half so
much. Confess, Marianne, is not there something interesting to you in the flushed
cheek, hollow eye, and quick pulse of a fever?"
Soon after this, upon Elinor's leaving the room, "Mamma," said Marianne, "I have
an alarm on the subject of illness which I cannot conceal from you. I am sure
Edward Ferrars is not well. We have now been here almost a fortnight, and yet he
does not come. Nothing but real indisposition could occasion this extraordinary
delay. What else can detain him at Norland?"
"Had you any idea of his coming so soon?" said Mrs. Dashwood. "I had none. On
the contrary, if I have felt any anxiety at all on the subject, it has been in
recollecting that he sometimes showed a want of pleasure and readiness in
accepting my invitation, when I talked of his coming to Barton. Does Elinor expect
"I have never mentioned it to her, but of course she must."
"I rather think you are mistaken, for when I was talking to her yesterday of
getting a new grate for the spare bedchamber, she observed that there was no
immediate hurry for it, as it was not likely that the room would be wanted for
"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it! But the whole of their
behaviour to each other has been unaccountable! How cold, how composed were
their last adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening of their being
together! In Edward's farewell there was no distinction between Elinor and me: it
was the good wishes of an affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave them
purposely together in the course of the last morning, and each time did he most
unaccountably follow me out of the room. And Elinor, in quitting Norland and
Edward, cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is invariable. When is she
dejected or melancholy? When does she try to avoid society, or appear restless
and dissatisfied in it?"
The Dashwoods were now settled at Barton with tolerable comfort to themselves.
The house and the garden, with all the objects surrounding them, were now
become familiar, and the ordinary pursuits which had given to Norland half its
charms were engaged in again with far greater enjoyment than Norland had been
able to afford, since the loss of their father. Sir John Middleton, who called on
them every day for the first fortnight, and who was not in the habit of seeing
much occupation at home, could not conceal his amazement on finding them
Their visitors, except those from Barton Park, were not many; for, in spite of Sir
John's urgent entreaties that they would mix more in the neighbourhood, and
repeated assurances of his carriage being always at their service, the
independence of Mrs. Dashwood's spirit overcame the wish of society for her
children; and she was resolute in declining to visit any family beyond the distance
of a walk. There were but few who could be so classed; and it was not all of them
that were attainable. About a mile and a half from the cottage, along the narrow
winding valley of Allenham, which issued from that of Barton, as formerly
described, the girls had, in one of their earliest walks, discovered an ancient
respectable looking mansion which, by reminding them a little of Norland,
interested their imagination and made them wish to be better acquainted with it.
But they learnt, on enquiry, that its possessor, an elderly lady of very good
character, was unfortunately too infirm to mix with the world, and never stirred
The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks. The high downs
which invited them from almost every window of the cottage to seek the exquisite
enjoyment of air on their summits, were a happy alternative when the dirt of the
valleys beneath shut up their superior beauties; and towards one of these hills did
Marianne and Margaret one memorable morning direct their steps, attracted by
the partial sunshine of a showery sky, and unable longer to bear the confinement
which the settled rain of the two preceding days had occasioned. The weather
was not tempting enough to draw the two others from their pencil and their book,
in spite of Marianne's declaration that the day would be lastingly fair, and that
every threatening cloud would be drawn off from their hills; and the two girls set
They gaily ascended the downs, rejoicing in their own penetration at every
glimpse of blue sky; and when they caught in their faces the animating gales of a
high south-westerly wind, they pitied the fears which had prevented their mother
and Elinor from sharing such delightful sensations.
"Is there a felicity in the world," said Marianne, "superior to this?—Margaret, we
will walk here at least two hours."
Margaret agreed, and they pursued their way against the wind, resisting it with
laughing delight for about twenty minutes longer, when suddenly the clouds
united over their heads, and a driving rain set full in their face.— Chagrined and
surprised, they were obliged, though unwillingly, to turn back, for no shelter was
nearer than their own house. One consolation however remained for them, to
which the exigence of the moment gave more than usual propriety; it was that of
running with all possible speed down the steep side of the hill which led
immediately to their garden gate.
They set off. Marianne had at first the advantage, but a false step brought her
suddenly to the ground; and Margaret, unable to stop herself to assist her, was
involuntarily hurried along, and reached the bottom in safety.
A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing round him, was passing up
the hill and within a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened. He put
down his gun and ran to her assistance. She had raised herself from the ground,
but her foot had been twisted in her fall, and she was scarcely able to stand. The
gentleman offered his services; and perceiving that her modesty declined what
her situation rendered necessary, took her up in his arms without farther delay,
and carried her down the hill. Then passing through the garden, the gate of which
had been left open by Margaret, he bore her directly into the house, whither
Margaret was just arrived, and quitted not his hold till he had seated her in a
chair in the parlour.
Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at their entrance, and while the eyes
of both were fixed on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration which
equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized for his intrusion by relating its
cause, in a manner so frank and so graceful that his person, which was
uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice and
expression. Had he been even old, ugly, and vulgar, the gratitude and kindness of
Mrs. Dashwood would have been secured by any act of attention to her child; but
the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance, gave an interest to the action which
came home to her feelings.
She thanked him again and again; and, with a sweetness of address which always
attended her, invited him to be seated. But this he declined, as he was dirty and
wet. Mrs. Dashwood then begged to know to whom she was obliged. His name,
he replied, was Willoughby, and his present home was at Allenham, from whence
he hoped she would allow him the honour of calling tomorrow to enquire after
Miss Dashwood. The honour was readily granted, and he then departed, to make
himself still more interesting, in the midst of a heavy rain.
His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme
of general admiration, and the laugh which his gallantry raised against Marianne
received particular spirit from his exterior attractions.— Marianne herself had
seen less of his person that the rest, for the confusion which crimsoned over her
face, on his lifting her up, had robbed her of the power of regarding him after
their entering the house. But she had seen enough of him to join in all the
admiration of the others, and with an energy which always adorned her praise.
His person and air were equal to what her fancy had ever drawn for the hero of a
favourite story; and in his carrying her into the house with so little previous
formality, there was a rapidity of thought which particularly recommended the
action to her. Every circumstance belonging to him was interesting. His name was
good, his residence was in their favourite village, and she soon found out that of
all manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming. Her imagination was
busy, her reflections were pleasant, and the pain of a sprained ankle was
Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval of fair weather that morning
allowed him to get out of doors; and Marianne's accident being related to him, he
was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman of the name of Willoughby at
"Willoughby!" cried Sir John; "what, is HE in the country? That is good news
however; I will ride over tomorrow, and ask him to dinner on Thursday."
"You know him then," said Mrs. Dashwood.
"Know him! to be sure I do. Why, he is down here every year."
"And what sort of a young man is he?"
"As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you. A very decent shot, and
there is not a bolder rider in England."
"And is that all you can say for him?" cried Marianne, indignantly. "But what are
his manners on more intimate acquaintance? What his pursuits, his talents, and
Sir John was rather puzzled.
"Upon my soul," said he, "I do not know much about him as to all THAT. But he is
a pleasant, good humoured fellow, and has got the nicest little black bitch of a
pointer I ever saw. Was she out with him today?"
But Marianne could no more satisfy him as to the colour of Mr. Willoughby's
pointer, than he could describe to her the shades of his mind.
"But who is he?" said Elinor. "Where does he come from? Has he a house at
On this point Sir John could give more certain intelligence; and he told them that
Mr. Willoughby had no property of his own in the country; that he resided there
only while he was visiting the old lady at Allenham Court, to whom he was
related, and whose possessions he was to inherit; adding, "Yes, yes, he is very
well worth catching I can tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty little estate of
his own in Somersetshire besides; and if I were you, I would not give him up to
my younger sister, in spite of all this tumbling down hills. Miss Marianne must not
expect to have all the men to herself. Brandon will be jealous, if she does not take
"I do not believe," said Mrs. Dashwood, with a good humoured smile, "that Mr.
Willoughby will be incommoded by the attempts of either of MY daughters
towards what you call CATCHING him. It is not an employment to which they
have been brought up. Men are very safe with us, let them be ever so rich. I am
glad to find, however, from what you say, that he is a respectable young man,
and one whose acquaintance will not be ineligible."
"He is as good a sort of fellow, I believe, as ever lived," repeated Sir John. "I
remember last Christmas at a little hop at the park, he danced from eight o'clock
till four, without once sitting down."
"Did he indeed?" cried Marianne with sparkling eyes, "and with elegance, with
"Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert."
"That is what I like; that is what a young man ought to be. Whatever be his
pursuits, his eagerness in them should know no moderation, and leave him no
sense of fatigue."
"Aye, aye, I see how it will be," said Sir John, "I see how it will be. You will be
setting your cap at him now, and never think of poor Brandon."
"That is an expression, Sir John," said Marianne, warmly, "which I particularly
dislike. I abhor every common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and 'setting
one's cap at a man,' or 'making a conquest,' are the most odious of all. Their
tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed
clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity."
Sir John did not much understand this reproof; but he laughed as heartily as if he
did, and then replied,
"Ay, you will make conquests enough, I dare say, one way or other. Poor Brandon!
he is quite smitten already, and he is very well worth setting your cap at, I can
tell you, in spite of all this tumbling about and spraining of ankles."
Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance than precision, styled
Willoughby, called at the cottage early the next morning to make his personal
enquiries. He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more than politeness; with a
kindness which Sir John's account of him and her own gratitude prompted; and
every thing that passed during the visit tended to assure him of the sense,
elegance, mutual affection, and domestic comfort of the family to whom accident
had now introduced him. Of their personal charms he had not required a second
interview to be convinced.
Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion, regular features, and a remarkably
pretty figure. Marianne was still handsomer. Her form, though not so correct as
her sister's, in having the advantage of height, was more striking; and her face
was so lovely, that when in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful
girl, truth was less violently outraged than usually happens. Her skin was very
brown, but, from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her
features were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive; and in her eyes,
which were very dark, there was a life, a spirit, an eagerness, which could hardily
be seen without delight. From Willoughby their expression was at first held back,
by the embarrassment which the remembrance of his assistance created. But
when this passed away, when her spirits became collected, when she saw that to
the perfect good-breeding of the gentleman, he united frankness and vivacity,
and above all, when she heard him declare, that of music and dancing he was
passionately fond, she gave him such a look of approbation as secured the largest
share of his discourse to herself for the rest of his stay.
It was only necessary to mention any favourite amusement to engage her to talk.
She could not be silent when such points were introduced, and she had neither
shyness nor reserve in their discussion. They speedily discovered that their
enjoyment of dancing and music was mutual, and that it arose from a general
conformity of judgment in all that related to either. Encouraged by this to a
further examination of his opinions, she proceeded to question him on the subject
of books; her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt upon with so
rapturous a delight, that any young man of five and twenty must have been
insensible indeed, not to become an immediate convert to the excellence of such
works, however disregarded before. Their taste was strikingly alike. The same
books, the same passages were idolized by each—or if any difference appeared,
any objection arose, it lasted no longer than till the force of her arguments and
the brightness of her eyes could be displayed. He acquiesced in all her decisions,
caught all her enthusiasm; and long before his visit concluded, they conversed
with the familiarity of a long-established acquaintance.
"Well, Marianne," said Elinor, as soon as he had left them, "for ONE morning I
think you have done pretty well. You have already ascertained Mr. Willoughby's
opinion in almost every matter of importance. You know what he thinks of Cowper
and Scott; you are certain of his estimating their beauties as he ought, and you
have received every assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper. But
how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such extraordinary
despatch of every subject for discourse? You will soon have exhausted each
favourite topic. Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments on
picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then you can have nothing farther
"Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this just? are my ideas so scanty? But I
see what you mean. I have been too much at my ease, too happy, too frank. I
have erred against every common-place notion of decorum; I have been open
and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful—
had I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten
minutes, this reproach would have been spared."
"My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended with Elinor—she was only
in jest. I should scold her myself, if she were capable of wishing to check the
delight of your conversation with our new friend."— Marianne was softened in a
Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his pleasure in their acquaintance,
which an evident wish of improving it could offer. He came to them every day. To
enquire after Marianne was at first his excuse; but the encouragement of his
reception, to which every day gave greater kindness, made such an excuse
unnecessary before it had ceased to be possible, by Marianne's perfect recovery.
She was confined for some days to the house; but never had any confinement
been less irksome. Willoughby was a young man of good abilities, quick
imagination, lively spirits, and open, affectionate manners. He was exactly formed
to engage Marianne's heart, for with all this, he joined not only a captivating
person, but a natural ardour of mind which was now roused and increased by the
example of her own, and which recommended him to her affection beyond every
His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment. They read, they
talked, they sang together; his musical talents were considerable; and he read
with all the sensibility and spirit which Edward had unfortunately wanted.
In Mrs. Dashwood's estimation he was as faultless as in Marianne's; and Elinor
saw nothing to censure in him but a propensity, in which he strongly resembled
and peculiarly delighted her sister, of saying too much what he thought on every
occasion, without attention to persons or circumstances. In hastily forming and
giving his opinion of other people, in sacrificing general politeness to the
enjoyment of undivided attention where his heart was engaged, and in slighting
too easily the forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which
Elinor could not approve, in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in its
Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation which had seized her at
sixteen and a half, of ever seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection,
had been rash and unjustifiable. Willoughby was all that her fancy had delineated
in that unhappy hour and in every brighter period, as capable of attaching her;
and his behaviour declared his wishes to be in that respect as earnest, as his
abilities were strong.
Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative thought of their marriage had
been raised, by his prospect of riches, was led before the end of a week to hope
and expect it; and secretly to congratulate herself on having gained two such
sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby.
Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had so early been discovered by
his friends, now first became perceptible to Elinor, when it ceased to be noticed
by them. Their attention and wit were drawn off to his more fortunate rival; and
the raillery which the other had incurred before any partiality arose, was removed
when his feelings began really to call for the ridicule so justly annexed to
sensibility. Elinor was obliged, though unwillingly, to believe that the sentiments
which Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own satisfaction, were now actually
excited by her sister; and that however a general resemblance of disposition
between the parties might forward the affection of Mr. Willoughby, an equally
striking opposition of character was no hindrance to the regard of Colonel
Brandon. She saw it with concern; for what could a silent man of five and thirty
hope, when opposed to a very lively one of five and twenty? and as she could not
even wish him successful, she heartily wished him indifferent. She liked him—in
spite of his gravity and reserve, she beheld in him an object of interest. His
manners, though serious, were mild; and his reserve appeared rather the result
of some oppression of spirits than of any natural gloominess of temper. Sir John
had dropped hints of past injuries and disappointments, which justified her belief
of his being an unfortunate man, and she regarded him with respect and
Perhaps she pitied and esteemed him the more because he was slighted by
Willoughby and Marianne, who, prejudiced against him for being neither lively nor
young, seemed resolved to undervalue his merits.
"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby one day, when they were
talking of him together, "whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares
about; whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers to talk to."
"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.
"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it is injustice in both of you. He is
highly esteemed by all the family at the park, and I never see him myself without
taking pains to converse with him."
"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby, "is certainly in his favour; but
as for the esteem of the others, it is a reproach in itself. Who would submit to the
indignity of being approved by such a woman as Lady Middleton and Mrs.
Jennings, that could command the indifference of any body else?"
"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself and Marianne will make
amends for the regard of Lady Middleton and her mother. If their praise is
censure, your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning, than
you are prejudiced and unjust."
"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."
"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man; and sense will always have
attractions for me. Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty. He has
seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad, has read, and has a thinking
mind. I have found him capable of giving me much information on various
subjects; and he has always answered my inquiries with readiness of good-
breeding and good nature."
"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously, "he has told you, that in the East
Indies the climate is hot, and the mosquitoes are troublesome."
"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made any such inquiries, but
they happened to be points on which I had been previously informed."
"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may have extended to the existence
of nabobs, gold mohrs, and palanquins."
"I may venture to say that HIS observations have stretched much further than
your candour. But why should you dislike him?"
"I do not dislike him. I consider him, on the contrary, as a very respectable man,
who has every body's good word, and nobody's notice; who, has more money
than he can spend, more time than he knows how to employ, and two new coats
"Add to which," cried Marianne, "that he has neither genius, taste, nor spirit. That
his understanding has no brilliancy, his feelings no ardour, and his voice no
"You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass," replied Elinor, "and so
much on the strength of your own imagination, that the commendation I am able
to give of him is comparatively cold and insipid. I can only pronounce him to be a
sensible man, well-bred, well-informed, of gentle address, and, I believe,
possessing an amiable heart."
"Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using me unkindly. You are
endeavouring to disarm me by reason, and to convince me against my will. But it
will not do. You shall find me as stubborn as you can be artful. I have three
unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon; he threatened me with rain
when I wanted it to be fine; he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle,
and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare. If it will be any satisfaction to
you, however, to be told, that I believe his character to be in other respects
irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return for an acknowledgment,
which must give me some pain, you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him
as much as ever."
Little had Mrs. Dashwood or her daughters imagined when they first came into
Devonshire, that so many engagements would arise to occupy their time as
shortly presented themselves, or that they should have such frequent invitations
and such constant visitors as to leave them little leisure for serious employment.
Yet such was the case. When Marianne was recovered, the schemes of
amusement at home and abroad, which Sir John had been previously forming,
were put into execution. The private balls at the park then began; and parties on
the water were made and accomplished as often as a showery October would
allow. In every meeting of the kind Willoughby was included; and the ease and
familiarity which naturally attended these parties were exactly calculated to give
increasing intimacy to his acquaintance with the Dashwoods, to afford him
opportunity of witnessing the excellencies of Marianne, of marking his animated
admiration of her, and of receiving, in her behaviour to himself, the most pointed
assurance of her affection.
Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment. She only wished that it were
less openly shewn; and once or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of
some self-command to Marianne. But Marianne abhorred all concealment where
no real disgrace could attend unreserve; and to aim at the restraint of sentiments
which were not in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely an
unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and
mistaken notions. Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at all times,
was an illustration of their opinions.
When he was present she had no eyes for any one else. Every thing he did, was
right. Every thing he said, was clever. If their evenings at the park were
concluded with cards, he cheated himself and all the rest of the party to get her a
good hand. If dancing formed the amusement of the night, they were partners for
half the time; and when obliged to separate for a couple of dances, were careful
to stand together and scarcely spoke a word to any body else. Such conduct
made them of course most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule could not shame,
and seemed hardly to provoke them.
Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with a warmth which left her no
inclination for checking this excessive display of them. To her it was but the
natural consequence of a strong affection in a young and ardent mind.
This was the season of happiness to Marianne. Her heart was devoted to
Willoughby, and the fond attachment to Norland, which she brought with her from
Sussex, was more likely to be softened than she had thought it possible before,
by the charms which his society bestowed on her present home.
Elinor's happiness was not so great. Her heart was not so much at ease, nor her
satisfaction in their amusements so pure. They afforded her no companion that
could make amends for what she had left behind, nor that could teach her to
think of Norland with less regret than ever. Neither Lady Middleton nor Mrs.
Jennings could supply to her the conversation she missed; although the latter was
an everlasting talker, and from the first had regarded her with a kindness which
ensured her a large share of her discourse. She had already repeated her own
history to Elinor three or four times; and had Elinor's memory been equal to her
means of improvement, she might have known very early in their acquaintance
all the particulars of Mr. Jenning's last illness, and what he said to his wife a few
minutes before he died. Lady Middleton was more agreeable than her mother only
in being more silent. Elinor needed little observation to perceive that her reserve
was a mere calmness of manner with which sense had nothing to do. Towards her
husband and mother she was the same as to them; and intimacy was therefore
neither to be looked for nor desired. She had nothing to say one day that she had
not said the day before. Her insipidity was invariable, for even her spirits were
always the same; and though she did not oppose the parties arranged by her
husband, provided every thing were conducted in style and her two eldest
children attended her, she never appeared to receive more enjoyment from them
than she might have experienced in sitting at home;—and so little did her
presence add to the pleasure of the others, by any share in their conversation,
that they were sometimes only reminded of her being amongst them by her
solicitude about her troublesome boys.
In Colonel Brandon alone, of all her new acquaintance, did Elinor find a person
who could in any degree claim the respect of abilities, excite the interest of
friendship, or give pleasure as a companion. Willoughby was out of the question.
Her admiration and regard, even her sisterly regard, was all his own; but he was
a lover; his attentions were wholly Marianne's, and a far less agreeable man
might have been more generally pleasing. Colonel Brandon, unfortunately for
himself, had no such encouragement to think only of Marianne, and in conversing
with Elinor he found the greatest consolation for the indifference of her sister.
Elinor's compassion for him increased, as she had reason to suspect that the
misery of disappointed love had already been known to him. This suspicion was
given by some words which accidently dropped from him one evening at the park,
when they were sitting down together by mutual consent, while the others were
dancing. His eyes were fixed on Marianne, and, after a silence of some minutes,
he said, with a faint smile, "Your sister, I understand, does not approve of second
"No," replied Elinor, "her opinions are all romantic."
"Or rather, as I believe, she considers them impossible to exist."
"I believe she does. But how she contrives it without reflecting on the character of
her own father, who had himself two wives, I know not. A few years however will
settle her opinions on the reasonable basis of common sense and observation;
and then they may be more easy to define and to justify than they now are, by
any body but herself."
"This will probably be the case," he replied; "and yet there is something so
amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way